The 2016 Album of the Year

Kaytranada, 99.9% (XL) I had a budding listener-artist relationship with Kaytranada all year long, which grew from mild curiosity to full-on obsession, as well as with a very strong connection to a couple of massive events in my life. It all started with Katy B’s track “Honey”, which came out early in the year. It […]

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The 2016 Single of the Year

1. MØ, “Final Song” On the heels of her guest vocal performance on Major Lazer and DJ Snake’s 2015 global smash “Lean On”, Danish singer-songwriter Karen Marie Aagaard Ørsted Andersen, otherwise known as MØ, released the exuberant single “Final Song”. Unlike “Lean On”, “Final Song” is the sound of a young artist finding her own […]

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The Best Albums of 2016, #2

2. Drive-By Truckers, American Band (ATO) American popular culture has a terrible history of burying its head in the sand during troubled times. In the wake of 1968, one of the most turbulent years of the 20th century, the most popular song in the United States was the Archies’ “Sugar Sugar”. During the Gulf War the […]

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The Best Singles of 2016, #2

2. Tove Lo, “True Disaster” Swedish singer-songwriter Tove Lo made a name for herself two years ago with her unflinching approach to pop music tropes: euphoric highs, devastating lows, all with explicit, honest depictions of love and lust. “True Disaster” keeps an even keel musically, its hypnotic, ominous electropop arrangement mirroring the sound of CHVRCHES, […]

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The Best Albums of 2016, #3

3. Leonard Cohen, You Want it Darker (Sony) A couple years ago I was having a conversation with a friend about whose musician’s death would affect me the most. After some thinking I mentioned Leonard Cohen, because his songwriting has had a major impact on my life as a music listener since the early-‘90s. In […]

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The Best Singles of 2016, #3

3. Kaytranada featuring Craig David, “Got it Good” It’s been a marvelous year for Craig David. In addition to scoring his first UK number one album in 16 years, he collaborated with Katy B on her single “Who Am I”, and best of all, he contributed vocals to the best song on Kaytranada’s astounding debut […]

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The Best Albums of 2016, #4

4. Metallica, Hardwired…To Self-Destruct (Blackened) A few months ago it dawned on me that I have not thoroughly loved a Metallica studio album, from start to finish, since 1988. Nearly 30 years. Time flies, I tell you. They’re still a band that’s very near and dear to me – though my naming S&M my 1999 […]

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The Best Singles of 2016, #4

4. Metallica, “Atlas, Rise!” The best song on Metallica’s best album in 28 years finds the band going back to the music they grew up with, capturing that energy, and coming up with a track that shows they are big, nerdy fans just like the rest of us. They’re in full early-‘80s mode on “Atlas, Rise!”, […]

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The Best Albums of 2016, #5

5. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Skeleton Tree (Bad Seed) After making a career of making music about the darker side of life and spirituality, Nick Cave was dealt the darkest hand a parent could possibly get: the death of one’s child. In July 2015 his 15 year-old son Arthur accidentally fell off a […]

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The Best Singles of 2016, #5

White Lung, “Below” Vancouver band White Lung hit their stride in 2016, and in so doing put out the best rock single of the year. Much like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Maps”, it’s an unusual moment of confession and emotional vulnerability from a very outspoken and confrontational singer atop some ingeniously atmospheric guitar work. To […]

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The Best Albums of 2016, #6

6. David Bowie, Blackstar (ISO) How often does a major artist have an opportunity to create a work that they are fully aware will very likely be their swan song? As sad as it was for the world to lose David Bowie at the age of 69 in early January, it felt so perfect for […]

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The Best Singles of 2016, #6

6. Jenny Hval, “Conceptual Romance” Norwegian artist Jenny Hval has mesmerized me these last couple years with some of the most striking music I have heard this decade, but for all her confrontational performance art and experimental music, “Conceptual Romance” is a huge creative breakthrough, in which her poetry is underscored by the prettiest melodies […]

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The Best Albums of 2016, #7

7. Jenny Hval, Blood Bitch (Sacred Bones) A year after the brilliant Apocalypse, girl, an album that held me spellbound like few other records in 2015, Norwegian artist Jenny Hval returned with a sixth album that turned out to be even darker and more confrontational than before, yet at the same time, displaying a pop […]

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The Best Singles of 2016, #7

7. Ghost, “Square Hammer” Coming on the heels of the superb 2015 album Meliora, which cemented Ghost’s status as one of the best heavy metal bands in the world right now,the Swedes continued that positive momentum with Popestar, a very fun five-track EP featuring four creative covers and an inspired original track called “Square Hammer”. […]

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The Best Albums of 2016, #8

8. Tove Lo, Lady Wood (Universal) With Queen of the Clouds catapulting Swedish singer Tove Lo to the cusp of global stardom – and rightfully so, as it remains one of the smartest pop albums of this decade – you had to wonder what she and her producers would attempt on the hotly anticipated follow-up. […]

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